Bob Poe: Finding a Cure for Small-Cell Carcinoma

When Bob Poe, of Lebanon, Ohio, talks about his wife, his face lights up. The love of his life and wife of 19 years could only be described as “my special person.”

Martina Poe was diagnosed with scleroderma, an autoimmune disease that causes hardening of the skin and potentially of organs. During her regular treatment for the scleroderma by her local rheumatologist in Dayton, an MRI revealed a small spot on her lungs. After a series of additional tests and doctor visits, the spot was determined to be small-cell carcinoma. She immediately was seen by a local oncologist and then referred to Erin Bertino, MD, and Nina Mayr, MD, at The Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center – Arthur G. James Cancer Hospital and Richard J. Solove Research Institute (OSUCCC – James).

Small cell carcinoma, a very rare form of lung cancer, has a stigma for being associated with smoking, but Martina had never smoked.

Over the course of three years, she had an aggressive and courageous fight against her cancer. She received more than 33 radiation treatments as well as multiple chemotherapy treatments. Knowing they faced an uphill battle, Bob and Martina remained optimistic.

“Someone has to make the 4-6 percent survival rate,” Bob says.

Martina’s admirable fight came to an end in August 2015. “She was courageous to the end, always remaining positive that her strength would come back to her… but by her coming to the [OSUCCC – James], we both knew she was getting the best treatment possible. It made it easier to cope with the loss knowing you did everything you could,” Bob says.

After Martina’s death, Bob was encouraged to do something to memorialize her. Seeing an article in impactCancer that mentioned a husband who set up an endowment fund in honor of his wife, Bob contacted the OSUCCC – James to learn more.

He then established the Robert and Martina Poe Small Cell Carcinoma Endowment Fund at the OSUCCC – James, a fund dedicated specifically for small-cell lung cancer research. He created the fund knowing that no other fund of its type existed here and wanting no other person to experience the grave loss he did. “Had someone started a fund like this five or ten years ago, my story may have had a different ending,” says Bob.

“It is a hope of mine that I have given [the OSUCCC – James] a tool to use going forward to help with small-cell lung cancer research and treatment.”

To learn more about how you can join Bob and support smallcell lung cancer research, please visit

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